For nine seasons, Seinfeld became a cultural phenomenon. It was popular not only because it was hilarious, but because of the characters. The characters were so different from other sitcom stars because how unlikeable they were. Plots were centered around shallow topics such as a woman’s “man hands” or the fact that Elaine’s boyfriend loved Christian rock. Co-creator Larry David is partly responsible for the show’s success mainly because George Costanza was heavily based on his personality. When he created his show Curb Your Enthusiasm in 2000, it generated another huge following because of how similar it was to Seinfeld. A lot of jokes and actors were reused and, while this may seem like a lazy tactic, it was executed so well.
Every season was strong in its own way and held nothing back in terms of offense. Its last season was in 2011, and has been kept on HBO’s back burner in the meantime. However, last week HBO announced that the show would be coming back for a ninth season. Recently, David has been in the political spotlight due to his uncanny impression of Senator Bernie Sanders (he even did a SNL skit called Bern Your Enthusiasm). With the election wrapping up in a few months, it’ll be a treat to see what David can cook up after a five year hiatus. To celebrate the return, let's look at the 15 Best Curb Your Enthusiasm Episodes Ever.
15 "Porno Gil" (Season 1 Episode 3)
Quote: "My wife jokingly refers to this as 'The House that Cum Built'"
It’s interesting to compare season one with the rest of Curb Your Enthusiasm. It’s obvious that they were trying to find their groove in the show because of how different the structure was. Instead of having multiple subplots crammed in one episode, they felt like a mockumentary in some ways. The scenarios were more realistic than others and even came off as mundane at times. “Porno Gil” is one of those episodes where the audience catches themselves thinking that this is probably the reason why Hollywood is nicknamed “Hollyweird.”
After accidentally dialing his number, Larry is invited to one of his golf acquaintance's dinner parties. His friend, Gil, is an ex-porn star and proudly refers to his home as “the house that cum built.” After being lost for over an hour (and having his directions ripped up by an old woman), Larry and Cheryl are caught in the middle of awkward porn stories involving fingers and Tabasco. Bob Odenkirk did a great job as a realistically pretentious ex-actor whose life is now reduced to stories and a suburban home life.
14 "The Special Section" (Season 3 Episode 6)
Quote: "My mother has a tattoo on her ass?"
After playing a Jewish gangster in a Martin Scorcese film (which really should be its own episode), Larry comes home to find out that his mother died - weeks ago. Her last words to his father were to not bother Larry because she didn’t want to disrupt his work. Of course, Larry takes advantage of this news and uses it to get out of events and having conversations with people in general. But when he goes to visit his mother’s grave, he learns that she’s been moved to the “special section,” an area for reserved for sinners (like people in mixed marriages, according to the manager). Apparently, Larry’s mother had a tattoo on her butt and he wasn’t present to rectify her situation. So, Larry pays off the grave digger to move her coffin to the normal section, but not without a few problems along the way.
“The Special Section” illustrates some of the best comedy writing in the series. It has Larry acting completely illogical to help a relative out—something that is very rare for him. The writers take the wacky high jinks cliche and add in their own flair to it, such as grave robbing and mantra stealing.
13 "Krazee Eyes Killa" (Season 3 Episode 8)
Quote: "Are you my Caucasian?"
Before Leon made an appearance, Krazee Eyez Killa would have made a great “mentor” for Larry. The writers seemed to take notice that having an African American “street smart” friend contrast his very white and oblivious personality was a recipe for laughs. While this episode may be a little dated now in this era, it was a hoot in 2002.
Larry meets Krazee Eyez Killa at a party, where it is announced that he is engaged to Cheryl’s friend, Wanda Sykes (who plays herself). Of course, because he’s a famous rapper, Krazee Eyes hasn’t been very faithful to Wanda and brags to Larry about the swarms of women he sleeps with. Naturally, Cheryl finds out and plans on telling Wanda but not without Larry fearing for his life (“Do you hear the lyrics he writes?!”). The dynamic between Krazee Eyes and Larry showcases Larry’s lack of social knowledge. After receiving a sought out jacket from Krazee Eyes, he seriously asked, “Are you my Caucasian?” It gives the audience a glimpse of how unintentionally racist he can get and how we still laugh at it even 14 years later.
12 "Denise Handicap" (Season 7 Episode 5)
Quote: "Yeah, I date the disabled."
"Denise Handicap" is one of the many episodes where Seinfeld’s influence really comes in (especially with the pie scene opposite Ted Danson). When he finds out that his date is handicapped, Larry is hesitant to keep going out with her. But when he starts noticing the benefits of being with a handicapped person, he starts to take advantage of the situation. This episode truly shows how socially incompetent Larry is in situations (like casually asking his friends if their Chinese daughter can genetically learn how to use chopsticks). But the highlight was certainly Rosie O’Donnell’s scenes. This is only her second episode and she proves a worthy adversary for Larry. Their chemistry really works well, especially when they’re physically fighting over who will pay the check (“It’s my pleasure! No, it’s my pleasure!”). It’s hard to think of a better ending than O’Donnell beating him up on behalf of Wendy Wheelchair and Denise Handicap.
11 "Chet's Shirt" (Season 3 Episode 1)
Quote: "Not one Spanish person has figured out that pinata is a sick f**king game?"
Season three kicks off to an excellent start with “Chet’s Shirt,” an episode that exemplifies Larry’s selfish behavior. Cheryl’s friend, Barbara, is in mourning over her late husband, Chet. When Larry comes across a picture of him in her house, he doesn’t seem to care about him but rather about the shirt he was wearing. He decides to buy three of them - two for him and one for his friend, Ted Danson, who he is opening up a restaurant with. When Ted finds a hole in his gift, it leads to Larry’s demotion in a performance of “Wizard of Oz” at his daughter’s birthday party and a couple of cracked teeth along of the way.
That subplot eventually leads to the episode’s big climax: Barbara visits Larry and Cheryl’s house while Ted Danson is there watching the Wizard of Oz with them. “Somewhere over the Rainbow” is playing causing Barabara to relive precious memories of her and Chet. “This was our song,” she cries. Then she sees Larry wearing the shirt and bawls on his chest, staining his shirt with tears and makeup. Then Ted and Larry see the second unspoiled shirt on the couch and race to claim it with the Wicked Witch of the West’s theme playing in the background. The use of that song was so properly used; the audience can’t really tell who the villain is. Is it Ted Danson, who wants to take back a gift he didn’t want? Or is it Larry, who refuses to let anyone else win, ever?
10 “The Carpool Lane” (Season 4 Episode 6)
Quote: "Drug Dealer: I can get you an ounce of, you know, some real hydroponic, scientific stuff, but that'll run you five hundred bucks."
Drug Dealer: "Yeah."
Larry: "I'm not looking for a sound system, my friend.”
Larry has continuously shown that he will go to the ends of the world to get what he wants. No matter how ridiculous the situation is, he will do it if it has the outcome he wants. “The Carpool Lane” is one of the many ridiculous stunts he’s pulled. After snagging tickets to a sold out baseball game, Larry is stuck in gridlock traffic with only the carpool lane moving. In order to make the game, he hires a prostitute just so that he can legally drive in the carpool lane. He spends the game with her learning about how she can give four blowjobs in one hour and the difference between "good" weed and “shwag” weed. Their awkward encounter starts to turn into something resembling a date, and it almost feels romantic watching them together. If anything, she made Larry not care about what other people think about him - something that Cheryl could never do.
9 "Ida Funkhouser Roadside Memorial" (Season 6 Episode 3)
Quote: "Don’t abuse your sampling privileges!"
What was so great about Seinfeld was that it not only addressed narcissistic attitudes, but also societal annoyances. “The Ida Funkhouser Roadside Memorial” does a great job of combining different subplots that are inspired from human mannerisms (or as Larry calls it: "the unwritten rules of society"). The episode starts off with Larry and Jeff waiting in line at the ice cream parlor. They’re behind a “sample abuser”, who Larry doesn’t refrain from viciously calling out. Little does he know that the sample abuser was the dean of admissions of a fancy school that they’re trying to get their kids into. In order to make amends with the dean, Larry goes out to Funkhouser’s late mother’s roadside memorial and steals a bouquet of flowers to give to her.
While some fans think of Funkhouser as an annoying secondary character, this is one of his best episodes. His dorky, white knight personality is a perfect fit in this situation, especially when he wanted to kill whoever stole his mother’s flowers (and still couldn’t do it even when Larry confessed). It also shows how low Larry will stoop to get in good with other people.
8 "The Christ Nail" (Season 5 Episode 3)
Quote: “See this thing? It's a mezuzah. Got that? And I need you to put it over the door here. This is like a Jewish thing, you know, we put it over the door so every anti-Semite in the neighborhood will know that we live here in case they want to burn down the house.”
“The Christ Nail” takes the traditional story of Christ and turns it in a blasphemous good time. It all starts when Larry goes shopping for his cleaning woman, Maria, who hasn’t worn a bra in 15 years. When her husband, Jesus, finds out that Larry has been talking about her breasts, he seeks him out to beat him up. The standoff is a perfect ending because it features Jesus trying to fight Larry with a cross-shaped real estate sign and him keeling over in pain when he accidentally steps on a nail. While that was certainly a great scene, it’s the little quirks throughout that made the episode stand out. Larry’s noisy orthotics and him nailing a mezuzah with his father-in-law’s prized nail from The Passion of the Christ prove how he manages to dig himself a bigger hole the further the episode goes on.
7 "The N Word" (Season 6 Episode 8)
Quote: “What did you fix your mouth to say?”
Some fans thought that every season after five was weaker than the others. However, “The N Word” proved that Larry and Jeff still had some jokes in them to make a hysterical (and uncomfortable) episode. The writers backed the audience into a corner and never gave a clear character to cheer for in this episode. Larry and Jeff are at the hospital preparing for Jeff’s operation. While in the bathroom, Larry overhears somebody refer to an African American by the “n word” in an antagonistic way. When he tries to tell Jeff the story, using air quotes, he’s cut off by an African American doctor who publicly berates him. From there, Larry consistently finds himself in hot water among the African American community.
This plotline proved that David was ahead of his time in 2006. He addresses the whole “being offended” controversy from both sides. As a white person, Larry couldn’t even use the “n word” without air quotes without being antagonized, and the doctor’s over-the-top outburst poked fun at the anger that can erupt over that dreaded word. Nowadays, the episode would likely be criticized, but it’s still a comical look at the social justice movement.
6 "Mister Softee" (Season 8 Episode 9)
Quote: "That was a horseshit catch... I thought you were a baseball player, you can’t catch a goddamn toss?!”
While David and the other writers have tried to force in too many ideas at once, “Mister Softee” is a perfect example of all of the subplots meshing together naturally. There are a lot of different personalities present from Larry’s Coen brother-esque therapist who doesn’t believe in patient-doctor confidentiality to Bill Buckner - the infamous baseball player who cost his team the World Series because of a field error.
Even though it was the second to last episode, “Mister Softee” felt like a season finale, in theory. It dealt with masculinity, loss, and Judaism, all major parts of Larry’s character. It starts with a traumatic flashback to when Larry was a teenager and was playing strip poker with a girl in the back of her father’s Mister Softee truck. He was caught by her father and left on the street naked leaving him forever scarred by the Mister Softee truck jingle. If you’re a big Seinfeld fan, then you’ll quickly notice the similarities between this episode and that series. Substitute Buckner for Keith Hernandez and his therapist for the talkative rabbi, and you have a modern-day Seinfeld episode. Fans might think of this as lazy, but the execution is so good, it brings you back to when you were laughing at those jokes the first time.
5 "Officer Krupke" (Season 7 Episode 8)
Quote: "Jeff Greene: Who are you?"
Larry David: "I'm Larry David."
Jeff Greene: "And what do you enjoy?"
Larry David: "I enjoy comfort found in wearing women's panties."
The subplots of “Officer Krupke” are so absurd that it’s hard to believe how David comes up with any of this material. From his brutal honesty towards children to his completely skewed look on neck injuries, Larry David gives the fans a whole new reason to groan at him.
While Larry is at Jeff’s house, he meets Virginia Sloane, an actress who is competing against Cheryl for a part in the new Seinfeld episode. Even though Larry preferred the latter, the team ultimately went with Virginia for the part. While breaking the news to Cheryl, she mentions that Virginia’s husband, Dennis, asked her to be in a menage-a-trois with the couple. Later, Larry and Jeff get a call that Virginia can’t do that part anymore because she’s in a neck brace “for reasons that are unimportant.” According to Larry and Jeff, there’s only two reasons someone hurts their neck: a car accident or cunnilingus. From there, it’s a wild goose chase to figure out if Cheryl actually participated in the threesome. It’s compulsive to watch Larry completely destroy any last pieces of his relationship with Cheryl after he accuses her of that. It’s like a car crash you can’t look away from.
4 "Palestinian Chicken" (Season 8 Episode 3)
Quote: "You know what it is? You're always attracted to someone who doesn't want you, right? Well, here you have somebody who not only doesn't want you... doesn't even acknowledge your right to exist, wants your destruction! That's a turn-on."
Curb gets political in the best way possible: food. The hottest restaurant in town is a roast chicken place run by a Palestinian family. By the look of the interior, it’s clear that they are not a fan of Jewish people. Larry even mentions that it would be a perfect place for Jews to come cheat on their wives because no one would come to it. Marty Funkhouser has just converted to Judaism and refuses to give them their business. However, Larry can’t resist their addictive cuisine and the owner’s attractive daughter. He’s (literally) in between both sides and has to choose between his Jewish heritage, and great sex and food. Of all of the scenes in this episode, the spotlight was the impromptu sex scene. Usually, seeing an old man getting it on with a younger woman is anything but enjoyable, but her Anti-semitic dirty talk brought some uncomfortable laughs (“You Zionist pig. You occupying f**k. Occupy this. I'm going to going to f**k the Jew out of you. You want to f**k me like Israel f**ks my country?”). Even though there was a subplot mixed in with the episode, it was quickly overshadowed by the main story. It’s yet another example of the writers not being afraid of offending anyone.
3 "The Table Read" (Season 7 Episode 9)
Quote: “No, you gotta do that once every 13 years. You gotta recharge the mitzvah."
Season seven was spent building up a Seinfeld reunion. It was such a big deal that non-watchers were convinced that it was actually happening. Even though it was just a plot idea, this was better than any reunion episode we could have gotten. Where else could we see a mother nonchalantly say that her nine year old has a rash on her “pu**y” or Michael Richards verbally assault another black man after three years? We also got to see the characters fans knew and loved from Bania to Newman. But being able to see Seinfeld’s cast with Curb’s cast mesh together was something we never knew we wanted. Having Leon pretend to be a Jew with Groat’s disease had us wondering why it took the writers so long to get him on the show. Every line was perfect, especially when he was trying to explain to Richards the real reason for Bar Mitzvahs. Leon could narrate Planet Earth and fans would listen to him all day long.
2 The Grand Opening (Season 3 Episode 10)
Quote: "Fuck you, you carwash c**t!"
Throughout season three, Larry had been trying to open a restaurant with investors. In the season finale, they are in the process of hiring a new chef after Larry fired the previous one for wearing a toupee. One of the candidates has a line of numbers on his arm - usually signifying a Holocaust survivor - and Larry hires him right away. However, they notice a significant problem: he has Tourette’s and randomly shouts explicit curse words. An even bigger issue is that the kitchen is open and facing the tables within hearing distance. On opening night, everything seems to be going fine until he has another episode. His incessant slurs are met by painful silence and seems to signal disaster, until everyone starts cursing in unison (with some very colorful phrases coming out). It’s a hysterical, unexpected ending and one of the more relieving outcomes for Larry.
1 "The Doll" (Season 2 Episode 7)
Quote: "Mommy, mommy. The old man's in the bathroom, and he's got something hard in his pants."
Frequently regarded as the most popular episode, “The Doll” opens with Larry and Julia Louis Dreyfus pitching an idea to ABC. The network greenlights it, and extends an invitation to a screening and after-party. At the party, Larry grants a little girl’s request and gives her doll a haircut, but then she throws a tantrum when she finds out it will never grow back. Jeff believes that his daughter has the same doll and suggests switching their heads to please the child. Of course, everything goes wrong with Jeff’s daughter finding her doll decapitated, Larry getting a rash from stuffing a doll head down his pants, topped with one of Susie’s most iconic breakdowns. The episode ends with a bigger bang when Larry gets a hug from the little girl, just when he's stuffed a water bottle down his pants. While this certainly isn’t one of the most offensive episodes, it proved to viewers how far that the writers could go in just their second season.
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